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Putin ‘will host Iranian, Turkish leaders for Summit on Syria’

Media in Ankara says Erdogan and Rouhani will meet Russian leader in Sochi to discuss paths to ending civil war

In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, right, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran, Iran, November 1, 2017. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, right, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran, Iran, November 1, 2017. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin will next week host Turkish and Iranian counterparts Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani for summit talks on Syria, Turkish state media said Thursday.

The three presidents will meet at Putin’s official residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi for talks on developments in Syria and the region on November 22, the Anadolu news agency said.

The meeting — the first such three-way summit between the trio — comes as Ankara, Moscow and Tehran cooperate with increasing intensity on ending the over six-year civil war in Syria.

They are sponsoring peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana and also implementing a plan for de-escalation zones in key flashpoint areas of Syria.

The cooperation comes despite Turkey still officially being on an opposite side of the Syria conflict from Russia and Iran.

Russia, along with Iran, is the key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Moscow’s military intervention inside Syria is widely seen as tipping the balance in the conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, (r), and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands after a news conference following their talks in Putin’s residence in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

Turkey, however, has backed the rebels seeking Assad’s ouster.

But Russia and Turkey have been working together intensely since a 2016 reconciliation deal ended a crisis caused by the shooting down of a Russian war plane over Syria.

In recent months, Turkey has markedly toned down its criticism of the Assad regime and focused on opposing Syrian Kurdish militia seen by Ankara as a terror group.

Turkey earlier this month said Russia had decided to postpone a planned Syria peace conference with all parties after Ankara objected to the potential inclusion of Kurdish forces.

Moscow denied this was the case, saying a date for the conference had never been set.

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